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By John M. Malecky December, 2021

Tower-Ladders of the New York City Fire Department
By John A. Calderone

Available from:
FSP Books & Videos
433 Main Street. Suite 2A
Hudson, MA 01749

Price: $29.95

This book is 8 ½ inches by 11 inches and has 64 pages. Get it while it’s hot! Another masterpiece has been turned out by the author, who has given us several books on apparatus of New York City. The tower ladder was born out of research to obtain an elevating platform truck. At the time, Chicago was using snorkels and snorkel squads which were trucks with articulating platforms that were developed by an idea from Chicago’s Fire Commissioner, Robert Quinn, who one day observed a tree trimming truck at work with such a platform and wondered if something like it could be adapted to deliver elevated streams. This was about 1958. The first Chicago snorkel was somewhat crude with boat hose for a waterway on a 50-foot platform. That truck is still in existence today, owned by the Figgie International, and it has been modified.

All of this is being told because it formed the basis of study by the New York City Fire Department. After intense study and articulated boom demonstrations, New York felt that an articulated platform was not suited for the many narrow streets and overhead wires as well as firehouse door height restrictions, but that a telescoping platform would be the answer. Hence was the birth of the first tower ladder in 1964 after working with Mack Trucks, who in turn worked with a company named Truco to develop the first tower ladder.

Through the years other boom manufacturers came into play, with Aerialscope being the latest. Two other brand tower ladder apparatus were experimented with, including a rear-mounted model, however Mack was the predominant chassis and later Seagrave after Mack departed from the fire truck business. The history from that point is detailed in the book and is worth reading. The photos as usual are first class.

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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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